Tools for Pricing

Tools for Pricing

The Guild show is looming and a real challenge is to price the final product. Producing everything is usually accomplished slowly, over several months; it accumulates in boxes and bags, then suddenly you realize the shows are upon you and you now have to price ALL this material! There are lots of discussions on-line and at meetings about competitive pricing in the arts and crafts community. We don’t want to undersell ourselves or price ourselves out of the market. We don’t want to be ‘greedy’ or foolishly inexpensive. Hand spun yarn is very fiber dense, very heavy when compared to factory spun yarn. So a hand knit scarf of hand spun yarn is going to weight more than one from commercial yarn. The benchmarks don’t apply.

But first you have to have a price, for that you need to measure and weight your products. The decision on what to charge is really difficult, but I search on-ine for hand-spun yarn of similar grist, similar fiber content, weight, etc, etc and see if I’m comfortable charging a similar price.

I was fortunate to find a tiny scale that weights from 1000g to .01g. It can be re-calibrated if I have a true weight of 1000g. I’ll look into getting one later this year. This is the only scale I’ve found that can weigh minuscule amounts of silk and cashmere.

The scale weighs in both metric and imperial on the fly, I just have to change the configuration.

So I don’t have to change the position of the fiber and can write the weight on the label right away.

Second I have a voice response computer to convert from imperial to metric and do math so I can keep working with labelling. Google is my friend.

And third, I have a yarn measuring device to measure the length of a specific diameter of yarn. This is the best thing to come my way in ages.

I can set the wraps/inch, mount the skein on the umbrella swift, start winding the yarn onto the niddy noddy and when I’m done the yarn measuring device shows how many yards or meters I have. When I want to convert to meters or yards, I use the voice activation on my computer to do the switch and its all done.

This skein is 20 wraps per inch

There is a plastic card included with the yarn measurer to check the wraps so you can set the device

The viewing screen is very clear and very easy to use.

Admittedly neither the scale nor the yarn measuring device perfectly accurate, the client gets more from both and that’s fine with me.

But the bottom line is to find what both you and the market will bear. We are in a unique position to negotiate with clients who come to our booths, to explain our products and discuss their needs. Pricing is more flexible at the guild sale and if this year looks like its a tough one for clients we can choose to be more willing to negotiate, or not. I will be more confident with my pricing decision once I get to the sale.

13 thoughts on “Tools for Pricing

  1. Found a youtube video review on the scale – it looks good and must be so very useful for sellers of yarn. Clever invention!

    Pricing is tricky. As makers we look at items for sale and we can appreciate the hours that went into the production and therefore the final cost, but prospective buyers who are used to ‘dollar store’ shopping just don’t get it.

    Good luck to you all at the Guild Sale. May the weather be fine and the footfall be heavy 🙂

    1. The scale is a real delight to use. I found it in a hardware store for a very reasonable price. I like selling at specialty events because buyers are vetted. These people know what to expect and aren’t shocked by prices. Thank you for kind wishes for the Guild Sale. I have fingers crossed on this one.

  2. Pricing is always a problem! I have observed price points that sell well at exhibitions here in Ireland (up to €150.) but that really limits how much time and work an artist can devote to a piece without undervaluing the work. It’s a dilemma.

    Love the winder – what a great invention. Up until this morning I hadn’t given much thought to how skeins are measured – now it is beginning to make sense Bernadette – thank you for that.

    These little scales are my favourite tool. I can’t recommend them enough especially when one needs accuracy in weights when felting (sometimes I need a more scientific approach). They can be hard to locate when searching the web but if you search under digital jewellery scales a whole new world opens up (Amazon have quite the range and they also sell the mini weights for calibration – my only problem is that I keep putting the weights in a ‘safe place’ ….. which reminds me, where are they now [says she, slapping forehead with hand!])

    1. I used to use a larger kitchen type scale, but it couldn’t be recalibrated and I was sure it was losing accuracy, so I checked by using a load of new coins for verification. It was not accurate enough for the small bits I needed to measure. Now if only coins came in grams we could all recalibrate our scales!

  3. Pricing really is the biggest problem we have. Have you checked the price on some of the higher end commercial yarns? I don’t think you are out pricing them. I m looking forward to seeing all your yarn displayed.

    1. Yes, I did look at some of the really chi-chi yarns and was gob smacked at what they charge! That’s why I have to really rein it in when some one says they can get ‘this’ at the Dollar store. As Lyn mentioned, that mind-set is pervasive and really destructive to the arts community. You’re correct that my pricing is in line with theirs.

  4. I ❤️ , 💕, loved, this article Bernadette! It describes well, the fiber dilemma we all experience, in our creative process. I’m finding myself in the crossroads of such a journey. If your Guild was nearby, and/or shipping rates were affordable, I could make a huge donation to your coffers.

    I would like to close my 14 yr yarn and fiber business, I don’t need the retail profits, for survival. However, I am all too aware, of the trolls that follow the fiber artists circuit. I saw them when I worked in fiber show booths, for our family needlepoint store, 50 years ago. I’ve seen them recently, traveling the “Stitches Knitting” show circuit with my hand dyed yarns. They burn my butt! They “oo and aah” over my reasonably priced, small batched goods – then buy from the overpriced “big name” brand across the way…to brag about their expensive haul. After my own $125 mini kit was riddled with knots … I was actually told by Miss Bab’s herself, 2-3 knots per 100g was acceptable QC in her yarns. I was horrified! My yarns are re-skeined to ensure 0 knots.

    I would love to find a way, to sell my goods (fair prices) then split proceeds with an organization that supports the arts. 🎭 If only such a place was nearby.

    Best wishes on the sale,

    1. Capi, where are you based? The Online Guild of Weavers Spinners & Dyers has members all over the world. They do have a virtual market in their Members’ section and I believe they have one which is open to the public too. (I haven’t got as far as exploring that myself yet.) They may be able to help you to sell off your stock and/or advise other ways of doing so. There is also the Knitting & Crochet Guild but they are UK based and may not be of any use to you.
      I’m sure Mr Google could help too. There will be groups who knit for charities – like those who knit garments for premature babies, and the Knitted Knockers people who knit boobs for cancer patients who’ve has breasts removed. There will also be Care Homes whose residents love to knit; Yarn bombers who do it for charity etc., etc. (And yes, for “knit” read “crochet” too)

    2. Never experience the trolls you mention so I can’t really comment on that, and I’m afraid I don’t know who Miss Bab’s might be , but maintaining quality is really crucial when doing hand crafts, I have to agree with you. I don’t know what to say about knots in stitching yarn, it must be maddening for the purchaser, can’t see how ANY would be acceptable.

    3. I’m afraid Miss Babs is correct (and I say this grudgingly)… the industry standard is for up to 3 knots per 100g to be acceptable. This means that you can order commercial yarn for hand dyeing and, if you notice knots, there’s nothing you can do because they are deemed normal.

      I was gobsmacked when I learned this, but then realised that factories can’t assure every skein is knot-free or they’d have to stop production often to check (wasting time) and waste fibre (because they’d get rid of lengths which didn’t comply to the new standards), which in turn would make each skein much more expensive :/

      It’s annoying, but unfortunately a necessary thing to keep production affordable. Luckily knots aren’t very common and when they happen, at least in my experience, it’s only one occasional one per skein!

  5. My scales are indeed my best friends! I have a meterage counter too (mine is more analog) and it’s great to help with the pricing process. I still feel we small fibre businesses have a hard time finding a compromise between paying for our hard work and being affordable enough to not price too many people out of the hobby…

  6. Pricing is such a tricky issue but it’s good to hear you are feeling confident and have to tools to help work out your pricing structure. I hope it’s a good show for you.
    Regards weighing scales for fibre…..I’m glad it’s not just me!! I absolutely love my Salter Precision Electronic Scale. It weighs in grams or ounces from 0.01 gms up to 300gms so you can be an absolute control freak when you want/need to be!

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